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Linux Mint: the New Ubuntu? 685

Posted by Soulskill
from the skeptical-skylarks-and-bandwagonning-bandicoots dept.
MrSeb writes "In the Linux world, a war has been raging for a couple years. At stake are the hearts and minds of its user base. The combatants: the various distributions of Linux itself. For some time, Ubuntu Linux has been the clear leader in the fight, amassing more users than any other. Canonical and its baby seemed poised to take over the Linux desktop/laptop market completely — until it released Unity. Unity has caused an uproar in the Linux community — especially amongst the power users who decry its lack of customizability and inability to scale on big- and multi-monitor setups — and users are defecting in droves to Linux Mint, now the second most popular Debian-based distro and gaining fast on Ubuntu. Mint has very similar commands and shortcuts to Ubuntu, runs most apps the same as Ubuntu, and you can customize it to look and feel exactly how you want — which, for most users of Linux, is exactly what they want."
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Linux Mint: the New Ubuntu?

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  • How about Fedora? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CmdrPony (2505686) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:10PM (#38026620)
    I've never been able to figure out why Ubuntu is so popular. It has always felt a bit annoying distro to use, especially with sudo and apt. On the other hand, after I tried Fedora I can't but love it. It goes really well along with CentOS too, if you run servers, and has a much larger company backing it (Red Hat). So why is Ubuntu more popular than Fedora? Is there some specific reason I don't see?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:16PM (#38026728)

    FreeBSD and the likes was included due to popularity (requests) rather then it being "linux" per se. For most users, having it within the rankings is much more valuable then the possibility of confusion.

  • Mint 12RC (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Daniel_is_Legnd (1447519) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:18PM (#38026770)
    I downloaded Mint 12 RC this morning and the new desktop is fantastic. The nice look of Gnome 3 with all the great features of Gnome2. Instead of telling users what to use, they listened and create a fantastic product.
  • Re:How about Fedora? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tripleevenfall (1990004) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:28PM (#38026952)

    I agree with this.

    I am a Linux novice, and I recently installed Ubuntu and I found it refreshing that rather than give me a couple hours of headaches later, it gave me the option to download and install these items during the OS install. Previously you were constantly hitting these tripwires because it wouldn't install something that was "not free software".

    Honestly, I will probably continue with Win7 for the bulk of my computing tasks because I don't want to invest a lot of time troubleshooting my home PC - "just works" appeals to me. Linux is fun to switch over to for a day or so but I always run into something that "just works" with my Win setup so.. back over I go.

    I appreciate what people are doing with Ubuntu and Mint and I will keep checking. As soon as it's seamless for me, the novice, I'll switch. Until then...

  • by citizenklaw (767566) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:29PM (#38026968)
    One reason: Mint's heavy handed tendency to replace the default Google search with a 'Mint-ized' version of Google search to draw revenue. I mean, I get it: it needs money. But if you're going to substitute something that works great (Google) with your own version of search to take eyeball money, give me something as good as or better than what I'm used to. Granted, there are instructions out there to change this by running a couple of scripts and commands. But it would revert after updates were pushed down to the system. I had to do it at least once a month. Disclaimer: I donated directly to Mint through PayPal, precisely because I changed the search engine knowing full well this is a way the get money. I would not mind paying a bit more and a bit regularly if they would keep their hands of my search.
  • by Hatta (162192) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:31PM (#38027000) Journal

    Changing the default GUI depends on your distribution packaging alternative GUIs without fucking it up. If your distribution can't package a default GUI without fucking it up, they're likely to not do the alteratives very well either.

    The solution is to get a GUI agnostic distro. Debian proper has good packages for whatever GUI you care to run.

  • by locokamil (850008) * on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:40PM (#38027176) Homepage

    Yeah, I looked into it a couple of months ago. It looks like a good start, but there are a few problems, at least from my point of view:

    1) They appear to have knocked out the FreeBSD userland and replaced it with a GNU one. Nothing wrong with that, of course; the problem is that my "stack" (random scripts, and actual project code) assumes a FreeBSD userland. This is probably my fault... I should look into making my code more portable.
    2) It's pretty sparsely developed. I don't expect corporation-backed support a la Redhat, but active forums and plenty of FAQs would be nice for any distribution I decide to use.
    3) Finally (and this is strictly personal preference) architecturally, I like where the FreeBSD userland is/is headed. Clang/LLVM, ZFS, jails... all good things. I'm not if/when these things (or their equivalents) will ever make it into Linux.

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:50PM (#38027318) Homepage Journal

    While I'm sure ill get modded down, my personal opinion is that this is one of the problems that still holds Linux back from 'world domination' ( whatever that is ),

    While admittedly its not nearly as bad as in 'the old days' when i jumped ship to the far more structured and focused BSD camp ( after being here from the very beginning ), the still rather fragmented Linux community wastes limited resources continuing reinventing the wheel, and 'doing things my way' which causes confusion for both end users and developers.

    Sure 'choice is good' for the short term gratification me me me crowd, but if it hinders longer term goals it should be avoided if possible.

  • Re:Fixing Gnome3 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Pecisk (688001) on Friday November 11, 2011 @03:25PM (#38027874)

    You have actually *used* it on desktop for a week with open mind? I did exactly that, I'm sysadmin and I'm *more* productive with it - and I have three friends with are geeks and use GS on everyday basis without big modifications. Meta key with two or even one letter - and I have app running. In case when time is essential, it is a bless. All apps running fullscreen, without interaption from bottom panel. Switching finally sane with expose (can be improved though).

    Look, problem is, people have problem with retraining stuff they do every day. With some geeks, it's colossal because they simply see themselves right. I'm not saying that GS doesn't have valid criticism - but it is very far from such claims as "it doesn't look like GNOME 2", "It looks too much Mac like", etc. Yes, it's different. If you don't like it, fine. Use other DE.

  • Re:How about Fedora? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by caseih (160668) on Friday November 11, 2011 @04:07PM (#38028408)

    Frankly the debian package (.deb) format is about equivalent of RPM. They both declare dependencies. In fact I'm hard pressed to find any differences between them. Neither package system does automatic dependency resolution. That's what yum and apt are for. And yum and apt are much the same in that they resolve dependencies and automatically download packages. To say that debian package management is "way ahead of any rpm distro" is untrue. RPM as a package format works just fine. In fact it supported overlapping multiple architecture packages long before .deb files did. As for yum vs apt, that's a matter of taste. And actually apt appears to be losing favor to aptitude, which to me seems even more yum-like. Yum's insistence on always updating its catalogs is a bit annoying, but then so is having to run apt-get update every few days before running apt-get install. Sixes.

    The real problem I have with debian is the way they organize the start scripts and things in /etc. I have always preferred RH's system-V-like way of doing things. We shall see what systemd brings us I suppose. Anyway, under the hood debian always lacked the refinement of the RH-based distros, at least in the aforementioned /etc/ stuff. And Ubuntu always seemed like it was just a pretty face on top of the roughness of debian. That is likely less true now than it was five years ago of course.

  • Re:Debian (Score:5, Interesting)

    by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Friday November 11, 2011 @04:18PM (#38028538) Homepage

    I've found three challenges to using Debian instead of Ubuntu for new users. The first issue is that Debian releases aim for every two years. That means that users might have to wait much longer for a new release than the fast Ubuntu/Mint cycle, which impacts the ability of someone to get working drivers for newer hardware. Debian's support for recent hardware starts to look a little thin by the time it's, say, 1.5 years into its release cycle.

    Debian's strict free software stance also means that many things don't work right unless you go out of your way to turn on the non-free repositories and add drivers. For example, I was frustrated that the Radeon card in my desktop crashed under Debian, and it's because the completely free driver that ships by default had a major bug in it.--which no one noticed because everyone uses the non-free one instead. There's a certain amount of ideological compromise needed to make Linux work on random hardware, from non-free driver code to binary blobs. Debian's strictness here works against mass adoption. The result is far less friendly than the restricted drivers GUI that Ubuntu provides.

    The last issue is that the default Debian desktop has terrible fonts, so the first impression is often quite bad. This is a combination of the free issue above (which means no shipping of Microsoft fonts for example) with things like the libcairo problem [blogspot.com]. Font rendering is encumbered by all sorts of intellectual property issues, from copyright to patents on rendering. Ubuntu has been much more worried about getting them looking right in the default install despite those challenges than Debian, and it shows.

  • Re:How about Fedora? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sarhjinian (94086) on Friday November 11, 2011 @04:49PM (#38028904)

    It's likely a massive case of NIH. Red Hat, despite being significant contributors, seem to be a bit dicey on this kind of thing. One of the reasons Ubuntu didn't adopt gnome-shell and created Unity, has a lot to do with GNOME, and thusly Red Hat's, reticence. The thing applies to systemd's being chained to GNOME, which stands a pretty good chance of relegating GNOME 3 to Red Hat and Red Hat-ish distributions.

    It's a real pity, too, because Red Hat has and does a lot of good stuff (GNOME 3, some weirdness aside, works very, very well). Package management and UI refinement just happen to _not_ be things that they're good at.

    Canonical, to it's credit, has pushed the UI and user experience issue very well for Linux as a whole and raised everyone else's game as a result. Unity might not be their finest hour, but they are trying to meet the needs of most computer users and grow Linux in a way that most other vendors had not in the past (remember when UI development was "how blingy a theme can we make?", or KDE's tendency to cram as many controls per square inch as possible?), and it is improving, version after version.

    Mint does it's own thing very well, too. What it is, though, ultimately, is a riff on Ubuntu for conservative technical people who already use Linux and for whatever reason aren't a fan of Canonical's design direction. That's fair, and a good thing, but it's not forward-thinking, and it's not a lot different from any one of a number of other distributions. It fills a niche, sure, but it's not the new Ubuntu, nor should it be.

  • Re:How about Fedora? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by GPLHost-Thomas (1330431) on Friday November 11, 2011 @04:51PM (#38028944)

    Frankly the debian package (.deb) format is about equivalent of RPM. They both declare dependencies

    Just talking about dependency when we are speaking about packaging is talking about the tip of the iceberg only, and forgetting about the 90% under the water. Packaging involves a lot more skills. The real issue with RPM and yum isn't the result, which is now as much user friendly as in Debian in many aspects (I still prefer the Debian way, but as you said it's all about tastes). No, the real issue is how to actually make a package. RPM having all the packaging written on a single file, mixing both shell scripting, changelog, dependency, you name it... is simply a horrible idea. But that wasn't it, they had to make exception for patches that are lying around separately...

    Yum's insistence on always updating its catalogs is a bit annoying

    I'd write instead, yum insistence of not letting the user into the control of wants to do.

    but then so is having to run apt-get update every few days before running apt-get install

    You don't have to, you can use apt-cron or whatever so that your sources.list are always refreshed. In fact, what I find annoying is not being able to tell to apt "can you please just update THIS repo of my sources.list, I don't need to update the others".

  • by crhylove (205956) <rhy@leperkhanz.com> on Saturday November 12, 2011 @05:24AM (#38033544) Homepage Journal

    I read about half way down the comments, and I seriously almost lost it. Tons of complaints about Ubuntu and Unity, tons of comparison with Fedora, Debian Sid, etc..

    None of that is what this article is about.

    This article is about Linux Mint, and there's a reason it's making a stir: It is the best OS I have used, EVER.

    I've used every flavor of Windows, Mac, Os/2, Dos, and even earlier command line interfaces nobody besides me and some other old guy remember.

    Let's be honest, almost every one of them has sucked.

    I've also used tons of different Linux Distros. Not all of them, obviously, there are now hundreds. Many of them have some good ideas and could be extremely useful for certain people on certain tasks.

    But no OS that I have used until Linux Mint (starting at around version 7) was easy, fast, clean, attractive, and had nearly every app a common user would need (and often the best version of that app) installed by default, out of the box with a menu that was extremely easy to use, and almost everything "just worked".

    Ubuntu was always ugly. Every version of it was brown, orange, purple, god knows what. The user community is often rude and condescending, and self righteous. Many weird bugs and work arounds were necessary for me on every Ubuntu install. Yes, I eventually got something that was stable and usable, but often times it was still ugly, a little bloated, and I had to spend an entire day replacing the ridiculous choices Canonical often makes as far as which program is installed by default.

    As of right now, Linux Mint 11 is almost perfect, out of the box, works on nearly every machine I put it on, installs all the best apps (except Brasero, which totally blows and makes coasters all the time), and is so user friendly I've seen 4 year olds and 94 year olds navigate around with ease.

    Ubuntu isn't just losing because Canonical is stupid. Mint is winning because it is the greatest OS in the history of man kind. Period. All this other discussion is largely ignorance, go and install Mint a dozen times and come back and forget the previous conversation. It's all OT.

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